Peoples of Tòlanar V: Nìrurikì (Halflings)

V. NÌRURIKÌ (Halflings)

[nai-RUH-rih-kai]

The word Nìrurikì, which means “halfling”, is the Araèlikì term for all halflings, and is the word most commonly used by outsiders to refer to the halflings as a race. The halflings themseleves refer to themselves simply as “the folk” (Anakod to the Rinakèkuk, Mòlakmò [moh-lahk-moh] to the Malòim, and Skìge [SKY-geh] to the Saradwà. which means “the folk”.

There are three halfling sub-races in Tòlanar: the Malòim, or Eastern Halflings; the Rinakèkuk, or Northern Halflings, and the Saradwà, or Western Halflings. Each of these sub races is detailed in the appropriate section below.

To the halfling the primary symbol of the importance of home, family, and community is the burrow and its ever-present hearth. No halfling dwelling will be without some sort of fireplace, and even halflings who live above-ground tend to refer to their dwelling as a ’burrow,’ even if it’s only a room in a inn.

While burrows will naturally vary somewhat depending on the climate and terrain, all halfling dwellings have some features in common. If at all possible, there will be windows, which will be open during all but the chilliest of days – halflings never confuse “snug” with “stuffy.” Saradwàs carry this fondness for fresh air the farthest, positioning their homes to take advantage of whatever gentle breezes waft through the area, while the Rinakèkuk represent the opposite extreme and might well have only a few small port windows.

Although well-ventilated, the burrow will be shielded against drafts by shutters of wood or leather that can be tightly closed and sealed against gusts and storms. Unlike dwarves, halflings keep their homes brightly lit, with lamps in every room, yet shutters and doors will be so well-set in their frames that not a glimmer of illumination will show on the outside when the burrow is locked up tight.

The fireplace will be built with as much stone as possible, given materials at hand, and capped with a large wooden mantle. It will have a wide mouth and a well-designed chimney to draw smoke up and out of the room. In colder climates, elaborate fireplaces are sometimes constructed with their own air-inlet ducts connecting to the outside of the burrow, allowing the house can be snugly sealed without suffocating the fire, while other ducts channel the heated air away. Conversely, in very warm locales halflings enjoy gathering around communal outdoor fires for an evening’s conversation and fellowship-yet even so, each individual burrow will always have its own homefire as well.

It is not uncommon in a halfling burrow for a single fire to last for years, even decades or generations, without a second kindling. Even in very warm climes where it is allowed to die down to coals during the daylight hours, the embers are coaxed back to life at nightfall. Well-seasoned hardwoods are a favorite fuel, but wherever they live, halflings will quickly learn the best fuels for producing a warm, steady heat. Halflings are adept at using different local firewood (hickory, mesquite, apple wood, &c) to”sweeten the air” or season the food they cook.

A halfling fireplace usually has several racks beside it, so that a variety of cauldrons and kettles can be swung over the coals. In this way dinners are cooked, milk curdled into cheese, and clay pottery fired by the steady heat. Often a large oven nestles in one corner of the coal bed, for use in baking the bread that forms the centerpiece of the halfling diet.

Halflings have been called connoisseurs of comfort, and the interior of a burrow will be furnished as cozily as the inhabitant(s) can afford. The floor will boast several rugs, mats, or carpets. Every halfling, however poor, has a table and a few stools, and at least one well-padded comfy chair. The bed will be small but snug, its mattress filled with clean straw or sometimes down, with several soft pillows.

The mantelpiece will feature a variety of decorations-most practical, like dishes and candlesticks, a few ornamental or exotic. The latter will often be among their owner’s prized possessions, even if he or she hasn‘t a clue as to what the things are, provided they look interesting enough. Paintings and statuary are rare, as halflings generally prefer their treasures to be useful as well as pretty to look at.

A single burrow will be occupied by members of one family. Depending on the size of both burrow and family, the dwelling could have as many as twenty-five residents or as few as one. A populous burrow will have a patriarch or matriarch (occasionally both) who presides over the brood with genial authority. Four generations of a family living in a burrow is not at all uncommon, although sometimes a just-married couple will decide they want a burrow of their own. Occasionally an older halfling will decide that he or she would like a private burrow, but such individuals are viewed as eccentrics by their families and neighbors-it is hard for most of these gregarious folk to imagine anyone wanting to be alone.

Halflings respect experience and wisdom and defer to their elders out of affection and trust. Aside from the venerable head of a family, adult halflings of different generations (even parents and children) view each other as equals. Only the youngest halflings, not yet adults, are subject to rules and restraints imposed by authority; all grown halflings living in the burrow will be there because they want to be.

Parenting duties are shared by all the adult members of the family; fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and older siblings all share in the upbringing of youngsters. It is a rare halfling who grows up as the only child in a household; it is more common to be one of a number of brothers and sisters and cousins who play and explore together.

Though family bonds are felt warmly, they are not a cause of exclusivity. Feuds between clans are rare, since most disputes are blamed on the disputers themselves, not their families. For example, a halfling who gets into a fight (a rare, but not unheard of, occurrence) is likely to be criticized soundly by his or her own family for his or her lack of self-control–there’s no “Let’s go and whup them guys what beat on my brudder!” mentality.

Although disagreements are naturally inevitable in these crowded living conditions, halflings rarely engage in outright bickering or argument. For one thing, the presence of two people arguing in a burrow several dozen people call home is considered a major intrusion into the privacy of the others and hence a severe breach of etiquette by those engaged in the fracas.

Many of the traditional causes of such fights among humans are removed by the halfling’s communal outlook on life. Supper is prepared by everyone who has a free hand, and those who didn’t cook will pitch in the cleaning up or help entertain the youngsters after the meal. Only when all the chores are done is an individual member free to go about his or her own business. Because of their ready-to-help nature, tasks like cooking and cleaning up don’t take very long, so this still leaves family members with plenty of time to get their feet up and their eyelids down.

In cases of deeper disputes, such as a couple’s disagreement on whether to move out and find a place of their own, the discussion will generally be waged quietly, over a period of months or even years. One member might make a friendly remark, after a crowded dinner around a small table, how pleasant it would be to have enough room to stretch out his elbows at the table. A week later his spouse might reply, in an equally pleasant tone, how nice it is that there was such an interesting conversation—”so many points of view”–around that same table on a different evening. Naturally, it takes a long time to resolve an issue like this–but when it’s resolved, the decision is far more likely to have been mutually arrived at than it would have been among a human couple.

Offspring are a source of great pride and joy to their parents. Halflings enter the world as helpless as human infants, requiring similar care for the early part of their lives.

For the first ten years, a halfling’s relative growth pretty well parallels a human’s–i.e., a ten year old human and halfling will look much the same age, although not in size, and will have about the same level of maturity. Children of both sexes and many different ages commonly play together, following rules created by the older youths that still allow the youngest a measure of freedom and decision-making in the game.

It is during these formative years that young halflings practice those traits that will form some of their basic skills when they grow up. Hide and Seek is a favorite game among halflings and is almost always played out of doors. Thus the youngsters become adept at concealing themselves in all sorts of natural cover–in patches of brush, behind tree-trunks, and even amid beds of flowers. Young halfling quickly develop the calm patience that allows them to remain still for long periods of time, since they learn over and over that it is the one who moves that is seen first.

Another favorite game is called Knock the Block, in which a small object such as a block of wood, or perhaps a tin pot or iron kettle, is placed some distance away, and the young halflings take turns throwing things at it, recording points for hits. The game is sometimes played with slings and stones (among older youths). For special tournaments and important matches, clay targets are used, with the winner determined by whoever’s shot strikes hard enough to shatter the object. This common game is presumably one reason why so many halflings grow up to be so adept with missile weapons.

From the age of eleven or so on to adulthood, halfling development slows in comparison with the Big Folk. A halfling’s adolescence lasts for about a decade and a half (more in the case of the longer-lived subraces). However, the period is characterized by a lot less angst than is typically felt by a human–perhaps because of the warm, supportive, noncompeting environment provided by family, burrow, and community.

Halfling artisans and craftsmen do not follow a formal apprenticeship program–indeed, adolescents are encouraged to experiment with a wide variety of pursuits. The cheese maker, for example, will be helped by virtually every village youth over the course of several years. Those who find that they enjoy the work will spend more and more time with the `master,’ until by adulthood the youth has learned everything the cheese maker can teach about the trade.

Another reason, perhaps, for the relaxed adolescence of the typical halfling is that male-female friendships are as common as friendships between members of the same sex, often lasting from childhood through adulthood. Many of these lifelong friendships culminate in marriage.

Halflings enjoy eating and drinking in plentiful quantities–indeed, despite the difference in size, the typical halfling will eat as much if not more than a human twice his or her size; this is because halflings have a very high metabolism. Most halflings eat three large meals a day, interspersed with three sizable snacks: breakfast, brunch, lunch, teatime, supper, and bedtime snack. Although they enjoy an occasional meal of meat, especially poultry or wildfowl (roast pheasant is considered a great delicacy), the short folk rely extensively on bread, fruit, and cheese.

Halfling bakers are famed for their abilities with dough, making all types of sweet or salty, light or heavy breads. Cheese making is another skill, in which many halflings are proficient, and here, too, variety is a prime hallmark–each individual cheese maker will typically specialize in one kind of cheese, no two of which will be alike, allowing a halfling community to offer a variety of sharp and mild, hard and soft cheeses.

Halflings are born gardeners, far exceeding any other race in their knack for growing foodstuffs. Any halfling with access to a plot of ground will usually maintain a garden, wherein he or she will carefully nurture fruits and vegetables of all types appropriate to the climate. Even in a small garden, a halfling will generally plant at many different times during the spring, assuring a continuing harvest from early summer through late autumn. Halflings do not favor a lot of spice in their foods, however, so few raise peppers or other strongly-flavored crops unless a nearby ready market for them exists. Onions are a notable exception–many halflings love them and have even been known to munch them raw, much as a human might eat an apple.

Halfling brewers are well-known and their products popular with humans as well as other halflings. As with cheese making, a brewer will specialize in a single beverage. These can vary from heavy stout (halflings often jokingly hand a first-time human drinker a knife and fork with the glass) to light and creamy ales. Fruit wines are also popular, with halfling vintners specializing in using whatever fruit is near to hand.

It should be noted that, though halflings favor many sorts of wines and ales, they rarely get drunk, due no doubt to their high metabolism. Rather, the alcohol tends to make them pleasantly drowsy, and a group of halflings that share a bottle of potent stuff will typically become quite relaxed, quiet, and contented as the evening wears on.

The key to the village is the halfling’s desire for the maximum of comfort with the minimum of effort. These pragmatic folk long ago learned that, though one halfling might learn to grow and cook and sew and build and so forth, specialization in these tasks creates a much higher level of quality all around. Thus, we see the cooperative roots of the halfling’s picture of community.

Indeed, this cooperation extends to all aspects of life. The bread maker will give his or her loaves to the other villagers, as will the cheese maker with his or her cheese and the brewer with his or her beverage. Perhaps the baker’s family gets the best loaf from a particular batch, but everyone gets a fair share.

Burrow excavation and house-building operates under the same pattern–the most experienced builder in the town will supervise a legion of workers, so that the initial portions of the task can be accomplished in a few days. As to the furnishing of the burrow, the occupants see to that themselves.

Though halflings mingle well with human society, this does not mean they have departed from the concept of the village–rather, it is an indication of their broad vision, for nowhere is it written that the villagers must be fellow halflings. A halfling who dwells in a city will treat his or her neighbors as fellow villagers–this is what makes halflings such good neighbors. They are quick to recognize when their generosity is not reciprocated, however, and thus will soon narrow their circle of `villagers’ to those who feel a similar sense of cooperation and friendship.

      Halflings are adept at utilizing local resources in their labors. Although only the Malòim are very effective at mining, all subraces will be intimately familiar with the surface features of their surroundings. If they live in an area with a lot of trees, carvers will know everything about each variety of wood available. If the environment is rocky, experienced stone-masons will predominate. The most dramatic evidence, perhaps, of this adaptability is the fact that the Rinakèkuk have developed a high level of skill at working the raw materials in their nearly woodless and stoneless environment: they make everything from their homes to their tools, weapons and clothing out of leather, bone, and ice. The specific skills likely to be found in a halfling community vary by sub-race (see below).

The quality of halfling work is very consistent. While rarely the equal of the greatest artisans in the world–dwarves make better axe blades, elves better wine–on the average it is better than the average available elsewhere.

Areas where halfling craftsmen truly excel include many tasks involving dexterity and great detail. The small folk make splendid jewelers, engravers, locksmiths, woodcarvers–indeed, artists of all types. They love colors, and once again the propensity for detail allows a halfling painter to bring a scene to bright and vivid life.

Also, because of their proclivity for entertaining gossip and news of all kinds, halflings make great storytellers. Some of them have a gift for music, and halfling musicians and storytellers are in great demand at any village feast or festival.

Halflings are ill-suited for jobs requiring size and strength, such as blacksmithing, ocean sailing, or cargo hauling. Though a halfling village will usually have a smith who makes nails and horseshoes, his or her work will not be up to the level of most human smiths and will probably be for local consumption only; the same is true of halfling teamsters.

Barter is a way of life to the Halfling — though in more cases than not it is the unspoken, unrecorded barter of village life. However, halflings also trade among themselves on a more formal basis and are skilled at interacting with human suppliers and customers. They have a keen eye for detail and are generally quick to spot counterfeit or low-quality goods, all the while proclaiming the good points of whatever they are offering in return.

Most trade between halfling villages, and between halflings and other folk, is carried on by professional halfling traders. These halfling merchants transport surplus goods from one village to trade for the products of another. While halfling merchants will certainly take gold and other coinage as payment, they are also willing (more so than human or dwarven traders, certainly) to accept goods in return for goods. Pragmatic here as elsewhere, however, traders generally don’t take goods unless they feel that they will be able to sell or barter those same goods at one of their next few stops.

Since they enjoy the give-and-take of a good bartering session, a typical halfling merchant will offer far less for the goods he or she desires than they are actually worth, while at the same time asking an exorbitant price for his or her own. The small folk view bartering as something of a game and sometimes forget how much better they are at it than most of the Big Folk. However, a halfling who belatedly discovers that he or she has unwittingly talked a human into buying goods at considerably more than their value will often salve his or her conscience by throwing in a `bonus’ once the deal is closed to compensate the poor bargainer.

Though they have no lack of courage, halflings shun violent or aggressive behavior in social settings. They are slow to anger and always ready to seek a negotiated solution to any dispute.

A halfling feels no sense of shame if he or she chooses to leave the presence of some obnoxious bully rather than getting involved in a fight–even a fight the halfling thinks he or she can win. Fortunately, because of their communal village upbringing, few halflings are this rude, and such situations mainly arise when the halfling mixes company with humans, dwarves, or goblinoids.

Personal insults delivered to a fellow villager are considered low class, reflecting more poorly on the one who makes the insult than the target. Politeness is much admired, and one who shows tolerance to a neighbor who has wronged him is considered to be the epitome of a class act.

Parties among halflings are common and will be given for a variety of reasons. Birthdays are always cause for celebration, and with so many family members living together it’s rare for a month to go by without several birthdays in it. Each community will also have many annual holidays. These vary by culture–there are no such holidays observed by halflings everywhere. Often they will celebrate whatever festivals are popular among their human and demihuman neighbors, soon giving these observances a character all their own.

The hosts of a party are expected to provide food and drink–but much of this will be contributed by neighbors prior to the event. Thus, none of the guests show up with anything to contribute, but they’ve all provided a bottle, a wedge of cheese, loaf of bread, or the like beforehand. Indeed, this is one way halflings get invited to parties–if you find out that your neighbor is celebrating his birthday, for example, take over a small jug of ale in the morning and he can hardly turn you away when the festivities commence in the afternoon!

There is little sense of social status among the halflings in a village, aside from the amused tolerance shown by adults to children and the general respect for the elderly. Wealthy halflings are expected to throw bigger parties and to generally show generosity to those less fortunate–yet they are not accorded any ‘upper class’ standing because of this. The villagers may well elect a sheriff, mayor, or constable and give this individual nominal authority to arrest troublemakers. Rambunctious behavior is rare among halflings themselves, however, so the sheriff’s main concern will be to control the behavior of humans, dwarves, and other possible troublemakers who come through the community.

The Malòim of Klakeyò are the exception to this rule, yet even there, the princely families are viewed as more prima inter pares than as an innate ruling family.

Halflings are a folk who can derive pleasure from many simple things and are not afraid to show it–a halfling who is happy laughs; one who feels affection or love will express himself or herself with words or deeds.

The small folk love to tell and hear stories and will generally be attentive and silent when anyone spins a tale. Not surprisingly, they especially love stories in which the small and clever triumph over those who are physically larger and stronger but clumsier and less quick-witted.

Halflings also have a frank appreciation for bawdy humor and practical jokes. They have the ability to laugh at themselves, though one prank often leads to another in retaliation, and so on. Such good-natured exchanges have been known to continue, reciprocated back and forth, for decade after decade.

The small folk know the same griefs as humankind–death and illness, partings, natural disasters, and other tragedies. Though they, as a people, are deeply affected by such misfortune, halflings tend not to display their grief as openly as do humans. Halfling villagers who have just lost several neighbors and friends to marauding bandits will shuffle around as if they are in shock–there will be few tears, little wailing or crying.

Even more surprising, there will be few expressions of outright anger or hostility. Revenge is not a great drive to most halflings, though occasionally a wrong will be judged so heinous, so unforgivable, that retribution is required (deliberate murder is a prime example). Loss of possessions, however–whether due to accident or the malicious acts of others–tends to be greeted with a more relaxed attitude of ‘easy come, easy go.’

In their day-to-day lives, halflings are remarkably impervious to frustration and depression. Members of the small folk show a remarkable ability to adapt to the circumstances of their surroundings. If the crops fail and food is short, they derive that much more pleasure from the meager fare that they eat. If the roof caves in and the family has no place to sleep, they will remark how fortunate they were that no one was seriously hurt–and they’ll mean it!

A favorite form of contest among halflings of all subraces is the exchange of riddles. These can vary from simple questions to answers to complex puzzles involving clues vague and obtuse. It’s not uncommon for a halfling to spend an hour or more pondering such a problem in silence punctuated only by his or her frequent admonitions: “don’t tell me the answer!”

Even more baffling to non-halflings is the Question Game, a contest in which each participant must answer a question with another question. Each response must be a complete sentence, relevant to the one that preceded it, and delivered within ten seconds, or the player loses a point. Experienced players can continue the game for hours; one legendary brother-and-sister team are rumored to have carried a game on every time they met for the last twenty years of their lives. Some halfling enthusiasts of the game will treat every question addressed to them as an invitation to play, with sometimes regrettable results.

Halfling settlements for the most part tend to remain small–they will happily live in towns and villages scattered throughout a human empire, for example, or they might occupy several small homesteads in a forest ruled by an elven king. It is only in Klakeyò that Halflings have established a realm populated and ruled by halflings. But even there, they have labored to maintain peaceable relations with the realms that share their borders.

Though they abhor war, halflings nevertheless have proven to be tenacious fighters in defense of their homes or in the service of an alliance.

The small folk traditionally have demonstrated a willingness to honor the terms of a longstanding alliance. They will provide the troops they promised, when and where they are required–and those troops display almost as much determination in supporting an alliance as they would in defense of their own burrows. However, they must have some strong motivation before resorting to violence to solve a dispute. Almost always this motivation is defensive in nature–either the halflings or their friends are attacked by some aggressor. Occasionally the small folk might participate in an offensive campaign, but only when it is a preemptory strike against a foe who has already committed enough bloody acts to warrant retribution and is currently gathering forces for an attack on the halflings or their allies.

However, when the need is clear, halflings are speedy and resolute to answer the call to arms. Indeed, this trait is one that makes halfling/human treaties attractive to the rulers of the latter. Also, the deadly accuracy of halfling bowmen and slingers is known to all who have faced them–and few of those desire to do so again!

As already noted, halflings prefer to avoid war if at all possible. A community of the small folk will be willing to negotiate extensively, and even yield to a certain amount of extortion, in order to avoid bloodshed.

However, when pressed to the point of no return, halfling troops make determined fighters with a number of effective tactics at their command. In most cases, only about half the adults will fight, the remainder remaining behind to protect the elderly and children. In cases of dire need–where the very survival of the community is at stake–every able-bodied adult may well be drafted into the cause.

Halflings have a reputation for being easy-going and somewhat lazy, but this does not mean they cannot fight effectively if they need to–the legends of the Bad Old Days under the Dsòrkit remind every halfling of what life was like before they had villages and lands of their own, and they will fight with surprising tenacity, even ferocity, to keep from slipping back into that fugitive existence. Thus each halfling has something that can be used as a weapon in his or her burrow, no matter how peaceful the area. If the village has had to fight in the recent past, then each resident might have a short sword and shield as well as a bow and arrows or a sling and bullets. Even if battle is rare or virtually nonexistent, villagers will be able to arm themselves with a missile weapon apiece (bow, sling, or perhaps darts) and at least a long knife or spear for melee combat–a fact invaders expecting to find them easy prey have discovered time and again, to their surprise and regret.

Halfling companies are almost always irregular–i.e., they don’t fight in neat ranks and lines. They will be quite capable of firing volleys of missile fire upon command, and they will advance and withdraw on the orders of their captains–but they would have a hard time facing, for example, a tight rank of armored human infantry or orcish swords.

Instead, the halflings favor battles in wooded or otherwise obstructed terrain. Their scattered formation is ideal for each fighter finding his or her own source of cover, though they are far more adept than humans at holding their company’s unity even in thickets where visibility and mobility are severely limited. The fabled ability of halflings to virtually disappear in underbrush is never more useful than at moments like this.

A favored tactic of a halfling force, when fighting in this type of concealing terrain, is to create a loud diversion. A few veteran warriors will thrash through the brush, firing many arrows, giving the impression that they number scores of times more than they actually do. Then, if the opponent’s force turns to face this imaginary onslaught, the real halfling company screened by the woods attacks the enemy’s flank.

If a halfling force is attacked in unfavorable (i.e., open) terrain by a force of large creatures, the small folk might try to stand off the attack if they feel they have a chance of success. If they are attacked by horsemen or are out-numbered by well-armored infantry, however, the entire formation will usually scatter, joining up again at a place offering more concealment and protection.

Halflings rarely fight mounted, though Saradwà are a notable exception, occasionally riding into battle on small ponies. When halflings fight as members of an alliance, they are often used as missile troops and skirmishers. Well-screened behind formations of human or dwarven foot-soldiers, halfling archers and slingers can shower the enemy with a deadly rain of arrows and bullets.

Another common specialty of halfling troops is tunneling and underground operations. They are not particularly adept at digging such passages–that task is better left to dwarves–but halfling troops can negotiate much smaller passages than can most of their allies. Thus, if combat is expected in close quarters or beneath a low ceiling, halfling troops are often selected to lead the way.

Sorcery is one area of power where halfling skills are lacking. Their inherent resistance to magic protects them against many of the power-crazed spellcasters in the world, but it also prevents them from mastering those forces for themselves: no halfling has learned much about the wielding of arcane power (although comic tales about bumbling but well-intentioned halfling apprentices are popular in many places). Unlike many humans and dwarves, they do not regard magic as particularly threatening; trust in their innate resistance enables halflings to extend to spellcasters the typically friendly greeting they give to all strangers–a fact which no doubt explains the fondness some wizards have for the race.

Almost all halflings suffer to some degree from feelings which resemble the condition humans call agoraphobia–a fear of unknown or open places. It’s not that halflings are literally afraid, merely that they become very uncomfortable whenever they’re too far away from their villages and burrows or in unfamiliar places. Whether this is an innate aspect of a halflings nature, designed to keep them close to home and hearth, or a holdover from the Bad Old Days when enemies lurked behind every tree and bush, none can say. But it has been observed that the symptoms increase with age–halfling children freely range far and wide, while the very old rarely step outside their burrows. Not that the halflings see this as a bad thing: to them, it’s simply the way things are and ought to be–youth is the time to gadabout, age the time for rest and reflection.

Note: The vast majority of the above is taken pretty much verbatim from the Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (PHBR 9).

Va. MALÒIM (Eastern Halfling)

[MAH-low-im]

The Malòim are the most populous group of halflings, found in their own realm, the Principality of Klakeyò as well as in the surrounding realms. They live much as humans do but prefer rural settings and villages to towns and cities. Their crafts tend toward the ordinary and practical–farmers, millers, innkeepers, weavers, brewers, tailors, bakers, and merchants are common in Malòim society.

Middle class female Malòim
Middle class female Malòim

Averaging about 3′ in height, Malòim are slightly stockier in build than is typical for humankind. Their complexions run the gamut from pale to very dark, with hair color correspondingly blond to black and eyes that are brown or hazel. They rarely wear shoes (only in bad weather and bitter cold) and can be easily distinguished by the thick patches of hair growing atop each foot. Malòim men often have long sideburns, but beards are rare among them and moustaches almost unseen. They wear brightly-coloured, comfortable clothes, such as trousers and shirts or dresses, with a vest, jacket, hat, sash, or bonnet added as a flourish. Unlike members of most races, they prefer actual comfort to shows of wealth. Their faces are round and very expressive, often appearing child-like to humans.

Malòim are slightly longer-lived than humans, averaging 100 years–though a few patriarch and matriarchs have reached ages of 140 and beyond. Full adulthood is generally recognized at about 25 years of age.

Malòim villages will generally be in hilly or rocky regions near good fishing waters and well-watered fields. While they do not have the affinity to mining of their neighbours (the Ukrix), they are quite good at it and will often develop a bustling business from the excavation of minerals. Malòim can also be skilled jewellers, stone-masons, builders, smiths, boatmen, and carvers.

Malòim Lands
Malòim Lands

Malòim prefer underground habitation over any other; will typically live in a fully-excavated burrow. He or she will have several round, shuttered windows placed in a few walls to let in light and air, but the overall place will be cool, dark, and often some damp.

The Malòim are an industrious people and can accomplish a great deal of work in a short time. They make doughty soldiers, and their infravision (60′ range) gives them a great advantage in night-fighting. In combat, Malòim prefer to fight defensively, usually hiding and launching ranged attacks as the foe approaches. Their tactics place great emphasis on cover and concealment and less on mobility. In those regions they share with the Zigòrxlaser they often form mounted infantry that ride to battle on the backs of the Zigòrxlaser, though they fight on foot.

Malòim characters have the following game-specific (3.5) characteristics.

  • Stat Adjustments: +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength.
  • Size: Small (+1 bonus to Armor Class, +1 bonus on attack rolls, +4 bonus on Hide checks, -4 penalty on grapple checks, lifting and carrying limits ¾ those of Medium characters).
  • Movement: A Malòim’s base land speed is 20 feet.
  • Racial bonuses: Malòim get a +2 racial bonus on Climb, Jump, and Move Silently checks.
  • Save Bonus: Malòim get +1 racial bonus on all saving throws, with an extra +2 morale bonus on saving throws against fear. (This bonus stacks with the +1 bonus on saving throws in general).
  • Weapon Bonus: Malòim get a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls with thrown weapons and slings.
  • Sharp Hearing: Malòim get a +2 racial bonus on Listen checks.
  • Favoured Class: Rogue.

Based on the Halfling article on the D20 SRD site as well as the descriptions in the Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (PHBR 9).

Image source.

 

Vb. RINAKÈKUK (Halfling, Northern)

[rin-AH-kee-kuk]

Also known as polar halflings, this rare subrace originates in lands of ice, mountain, and glacier. The most distinguishing feature of this subrace is the full, long beard that sprouts from the chin of the mature males. These beards are a matter of great pride, and in older Rinakèkuk often extend as far as the waist. The race favors warm clothing, woven of animal hair or lined with fur. They regularly wear snowshoes and boots.

Female Rinakèkuk ranger riding a giant weasel
Female Rinakèkuk ranger riding a giant weasel

Rinakèkuk halflings resemble other in both height and girth, though their average life expectancy (80 years) is considerably shorter, no doubt due to their harsher native environment. Hair and skin color vary widely, but tend to be pale, though eyes are usually dark. Those few Rinakèkuk born with green eyes are accorded much status — they are believed to be emissaries of the gods and are treated to a life of near-royal privilege.

In their natural environment, the polar halflings are primarily nomadic, ranging across icy glaciers and barren tundra, following great herds of migrating animals. They have become adept at surviving in these very harshest of conditions.

The Rinakèkuk dwell in small clans, usually no more than thirty individuals in a community. In summer they live in tents of leather; in winter they make small, domed shelters of ice. Their clothing is made of fur, their equipment from leather, bone, and ivory; wood is almost unknown in their lands. Tribal leaders often wield metal weapons and tools acquired through trading with glacier dwarves (see Frostburn).

Rinakèkuk Lands
Rinakèkuk Lands

Having developed a number of specialized skills, the Rinakèkuk are adept at surviving in their grueling environment — and seemingly having a good time while they’re doing it. In general, the Rinakèkuk are a good-humored people who enjoy practical jokes, funny stories, and bawdy songs. Both parents care for the young with great tolerance and tenderness, teaching their children early on the secrets of surviving in their harsh clime.

Strangers — especially those who bring gifts, objects for trade, or interesting stories to tell — will be welcomed by the Rinakèkuk with warm hospitality. Although their lives are hard, they are an unselfish people and will treat visitors with kindness and generosity (unless given reason to do otherwise).

Members of this subrace are very proficient in specialized skills suited to their environment, some of which will carry over quite effectively into other locations. They are patient trappers and skilled hunters, tanners, and leatherworkers as well. Their characteristic boat is a miniature kayak, a virtually water-tight shell of leather covering a sturdy bone frame. While only one of their skilled boatwrights can craft these vessels, virtually all adult Rinakèkuk are adept at piloting them.

When hunting, the Rinakèkuk use leather slings for small game and long, barbed spears for more formidable foes; a strong line can be attached to the spear to allow it (and whatever it has impaled) to be drawn back toward the launcher. In melee combat (which they avoid if at all possible), the Rinakèkuk use short handled axes and daggers. Because of their small numbers and an absence of potential foes, the members of this subrace are unused to war and have developed no tactics for fighting an organized formation of soldiers.

In the realm of hunting and stalking, however, the Rinakèkuk are second to none. Occasionally, a few Rinakèkuk led by an experienced warrior will embark on an mission to slay some dangerous threat to the tribe — such as a band of yetis or a frost giant. Through clever use of terrain and diversion, as well as patiently planned and executed ambush, these halflings have been known to vanquish foes many times their own size. In this respect, obviously, they are not so different from their cousins who live in warmer climes.

Rinakèkuk characters have the following game specific (3.5) characteristics.

  • Stat Adjustments: -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence.
  • Size: Small (As a Small creature, a Rinakèkuk gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but uses smaller weapons than humans use, and lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character).
  • Movement: Rinakèkuk base land speed is 20 feet.
  • Racial Skill Bonuses: Rinakèkuk get a +2 racial bonus on Listen, Move Silently, Survival, and Swim checks.
  • Combat Bonuses: Rinakèkuk get a +4 dodge bonus to Armour Class against yetis and monsters of the giant type. Any time a Rinakèkuk loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armour Class, such as when it’s caught flat-footed, it loses its dodge bonus, too.
  • Climate Tolerant: A Rinakèkuk does not have to make Fortitude saves in extreme environments between -20 and 140 F (severe cold to severe heat). This ability does not provide any protection from fire or cold damage. This ability counts as if she had the Cold Endurance feat (see Frostburn) for purposes of fulfilling prerequisites for feats or prestige classes.
  • Primitive Weapon Mastery (Ex): +1 racial bonus on attack rolls made with the following weapons: bolas, club, dagger, dart, goad, handaxe, harpoon, iuak, javelin, longspear, quarterstaff, ritiik, shortbow, shortspear, sling, sugliin, and throwing axe.
  • Favored Class: Ranger.

Taken directly from the Furchin entry on the D&D Wiki.

Source for image.

 

Vc. SARADWÀ (Western Halflings)

[SAH-rah-dway]

This subrace of halflings is not so common as the Malòim but exists in significant numbers in the of temperate woodlands of their homeland. Averaging a little over 4′ in height, Saradwàs are slender and light-boned, weighing little more than the average Malòim. They wear their hair long, often topped by a small brightly-colored cap.

Male and female Saradwà scouts.
Male and female Saradwà scouts.

The longest-lived of all halfling subraces, Saradwàs have an average life expectancy of 180 years, with the eldest exceeding 250 years. Like the Malòim, Saradwàs shun footwear. Their characteristic foot-fur is somewhat sparser and finer than that of their cousins.

Saradwàs favor woodland shades of brown, yellow, and green and have developed several vibrant shades of the latter color through unique dyes. They enjoy the company of elves, and where a Saradwà village is found near a a population of that sylvan folk, a flourishing trade usually exists between the two peoples.

Saradwàs are the halflings most closely integrated into human society. They will work for human employers or hire human laborers, and many a Saradwà merchant has made his or her fortune by appealing to the human elite of a city’s population. While they will dwell in buildings in human neighborhoods, Saradwàs do prefer to live among others of their own kind. Preferring to live above ground, Saradwàs often dwell in spacious houses of wood, with many windows. Indeed, the ceiling of a Saradwà house will typically be nearly 6′ above the floor! Though the house will often have a cellar, this will be used primarily for storage. However, during days of hot summer Saradwàs will often retire to their underground chambers for a long evening’s conversation and sleep.

Saradwàs display the greatest affinity toward working with wood of any halfling. They make splendid carpenters (often building boats or wagons for human customers), as well as loggers, carvers, pipesmiths, musicians, shepherds, liverymen, dairymen, cheese-makers, hunters, and scouts. They are good farmers, although not as good as the Malòim, and more adept than any other people at harvesting natural bounties of berries, nuts, roots, and wild grains.

The only halflings who enjoy much proficiency at riding, Saradwàs favor small ponies. Indeed, many unique breeds of diminutive horse have been bred among Saradwà clans: fast, shaggy-maned, nimble mounts with great endurance. In a charge, of course, they lack the impact of a human-mounted warhorse; nonetheless, Saradwà companies have served admirably as light lancers and horsearchers during many a hard-fought campaign.

Saradwà Lands
Saradwà Lands

On foot, Saradwàs wield spears with rare skill. They are adept at forming bristling `porcupine’ formations with these weapons, creating such a menacing array that horses and footmen alike are deterred from attacking. This is one of the few halfling formations capable of standing toe-to-toe with a larger opponent in the open field.

Saradwà characters have the following game-specific (3.5) characteristics.

  • Stat Adjustments: +2 Dexterity, –2 Strength.
  • Size: Small (As a Small creature, a Saradwà gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but she uses smaller weapons than humans use, and her lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character).
  • Movement: Saradwà base land speed is 20 feet.
  • Saving Throws: Saradwà get a +1 racial bonus on all saving throws. They also get a +2 morale bonus on saving throws against fear, which with the Saradwà’s +1 bonus on saving throws in general).
  • Weapon Bonus: Saradwà get a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls with spears and slings.
  • Skill Bonuses: Saradwà get a +2 racial bonus on Search, Spot, and Listen checks. Like an elf, a Saradwà who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check as though actively looking for it.
  • Favored Class: Rogue.   Level Adjustment: +0

Based on the Tallfellow Halfling article on the D&D Wiki and in the Complete Handbook of Gnomes and Halflings (PHBR 9).

Source for image.

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